I’m Sorry, Vanessa

I composed the following before the symptoms that I describe exploded into a full-blown cold. I thus owe my VNS an apology. In my defence, it does seem like the kind of thing she’d put me through, but still: Vanessa, I’m sorry. Not sorry enough to let a perfectly good post go to waste, though. Who cares if it reflects my reality of a few days ago and is now almost entirely inaccurate? 🤷🏻‍♀️

As I wrote in my last blog entry, my VNS, which I named Vanessa (that’s normal, right?), was recently adjusted. In the week and a half or so since the appointment during which that change was made, I’ve had VNS side effects that I didn’t really experience before. I can’t help but see a correlation and blame Vanessa for these issues, which I in turn unashamedly blame for the fact that I’ve spent much of the past four days knitting and watching Netflix.

I wasn’t sure—actually, I’m still not 100% certain—if all of my symptoms are due to the VNS or if some of them should rather be attributed to a summer cold whose onset happened to exactly coincide with when the length of VNS stimulation was doubled from thirty to sixty seconds, a cold that’s lingering in a strange illness limbo, taking a weirdly long time to develop past the painful-but-boring stage (much like a badly plotted movie that you’re forced to keep watching even though you know it isn’t going anywhere good). Seeing these words in type, I’m now inclined to say that Vanessa is behind it all. It’s just the kind of thing she’d do. More to the point, she’s a convenient scapegoat.

There is, of course, a more positive way to look at how bad I feel: by focusing on how until twelve(ish) days ago, my VNS was almost completely tolerable. I had to have the level of stimulation turned down once as a result of tooth discomfort, but that pain was periodic and not debilitating. My voice hasn’t really changed—only in the evening, when my vocal cords are already tired, and only a little. Indeed, it’s been pretty smooth sailing up until now.

I’m going to give it until the two-week mark before making a decision about how to proceed. Since I’ve been so uncomfortable, it’d be very, very easy to rush back to my epileptologist and ask to have my VNS returned to its previous settings. However, the reasonable part of my brain is aware that I need to allow time for my body to adjust. I went to all the trouble of having a titanium puck implanted in my chest, and it’s made a positive difference in terms of my seizure frequency: we might as well maximize its efficacy.

On the other hand, I’m not obliged to be happy about being sick. And so Vanessa, you’ve (mostly) been good to me. Right now, though, I hate you.


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